Kotis Importing Guide
Our favorite swag is fully custom swag. Not just a custom screen print, but completely custom, as in built from scratch. As in, this thing didn’t exist until your project came along. If you really want to up your merch game, this is where you need to focus and plan for. It’s harder, takes more planning and strategy, but the fruit of it’s labor is oh so sweet.
Step 1: Dream up what you want
Almost anything is possible. We will want to find imagery or styles of the piece getting created for inspiration. We’ll order a similar retail product and discuss what we like and don’t like about the item, your intended use, materials, design styles. Don’t hold back and loop in the design directors to help!
Step 2: Is the order size large enough?
Unfortunately, fully custom takes time to make and factories have minimums. Some approximate guidelines are the order must be at least 1,000 units. If the item is cheaper, it might be higher and if the item is more expensive the minimum may be a bit less. This is the point where we’ll need to discuss overall budget.
Don't need 1000 units, take a look at some of our core items where we have predetermined materials at lower minimum quantities:
Hoodies/Sweatshirts: Minimum quantity 144 units
Price Range: $40 - $52
Button up shirts: Minimum quantity 200 units
Price Range: $28 - $42
Hats: Minimum quantity 144 units
Price Range: $8 - $18
Step 3: Start early (like really early!)
The more custom, the longer it will take. It’s important you understand timeline to ensure it will work. A good estimation is 12-15 weeks from the time the order is place if shipping via ocean. This means for holiday gifts delivered in December, you want to start the design process in August. We know this seems like a while, but we’re confident it will be worth the wait.
- Ocean Delivery: 35 days OR
- Air Delivery: 5-15 days (significantly more expensive, 3-4 times the price)
Step 4: Initial estimate & timeline
With your new amazing idea in mind, we can give you a rough price based on similar products out there in the market. We’ll walk through potential cost swings and where prices could go up.
We’ll provide a quote with general production times as a guide. Both are simply estimates as productions schedules often shift depending on demand.
Step 5: Finalize the details
We’ll finalize the design, any packaging requirements, and re-confirm your quote and timeline estimate. Once approved, you’ll submit your order and production will begin.
Step 6: Pre-Pro(s)
Once your order is submitted, we start making a physical sample. A pre-production sample (pre-pro) is the preliminary version of your product from which the full production run will copy.
We hope it will only take 1 pre-pro, but often times we’ll need to make a few versions, hence the (s) in Pre-Pro(s).
For each Pre-Pro we will always make two items, one for you and one for our team and we’ll have reviewed the product before it’s sent to you. This allows us to discuss feedback and provide feedback back to the factory if changes need to be made.
If changes need to be made, the timeline increases as the pre-pro process starts again and another round of pre-pros must be approved.
Step 7: Production
Once your pre-pro sample is approved, we begin full production. The majority of custom orders require testing and a pre-shipment inspection. This is to ensure the products are following certain requirements and the quality matches your pre-pro sample. Some examples of where we do testing are
1. Sustainable material
2. Children’s items
3. FDA items
4. Safety testing
Once the production is 80-90% completed we arrange a pre-shipment inspection for review, the product is compared to specifications provided as well as the approved sample.
Keep in mind custom items are made for each order so there could be small overages up to 10%. This allows us to avoid shortages in the final shipment quantities. As an example the process for apparel items is ordering bulk material, it is printed (if required), then cut and sewn. At the time of steaming and quality control any unacceptable garments are removed and at packaging we receive final shipping quantities which is right before shipping.
Step 8: Shipping & delivery
Once confirmed on board (either ocean or air) we receive the tracking number. Often times tracking information can take 1-3 days to confirm after the shipment. First, there is domestic shipping within China to the port and then there is actual booking of the shipment to the US. Getting real time updates can be difficult as the product is at sea or in the air, however, we track frequently to watch for potential days and communicate as quickly as possible.
Upon delivery, inspect your order to ensure product matches your sample and receiving quantity is correct.
Let us know what your team thinks – we love feedback!
Amazing = Made